August 7th, 2010
09:00 AM ET

Letters to the President #565: Take a stand…or don’t…on gay marriage

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's note: President Obama has, like a lot of political types, played it somewhat coy on this issue of gay marriage. That’s the subject of my daily letter to the White House.

Dear Mr. President,

I am writing this on another beautiful and already hot early morning in New Orleans, just a few hours before I fly home to DC. Which is kind of a strange statement since I really still consider New Orleans home even though I have not lived here in a long time. I’ll bet you feel the same way about Chicago.

And I’ll be you wish you were back there every time this issue of gay marriage comes up. Oh yes, I’ve seen you and your team dancing on that hotplate lately! David Axelrod was sweating and stammering like one of those guys who has been picked up on COPS when he was questioned about your stance. I can’t blame him because it looks like you either haven’t actually decided what you think, or are desperately trying to hide your opinion on this one.

The problem is, of course, that the court ruling overturning California’s Proposition 8 has put the debate on the front burner again, so everyone wants to know what’s cooking in your kitchen. And you’re trying to play it both ways. Come on. I’m not being rude or insensitive to your position, but it is really obvious.

I mean, your team has said (or suggested…frankly you’re all over the map on this one) that you’re against Prop 8, but the states should decide such matters, but gays and lesbians should have the same rights as everyone else, but you’re against gay marriage, but, but, but…

I’ve seen how getting embroiled in these essentially moral issues can be disastrous for politicians. There is actually pretty good reason to steer clear of this matter. But I think you either have to really turn your back and say, “This is a matter to be decided by the states and I will not weigh in,” or…you have to weigh in. As it stands, it seems like you want credit for standing up for the rights of gay and lesbian Americans, but you don’t want to actually stand up for them.

Sure there is a lot of political risk in taking either stance. Everyone knows that. But what you are doing just looks spineless, wishy-washy, and like any old politician. And I know I’ve said this before, but you have to remember every day of your presidency that what got you elected was the promise that you would be different; you would say what you mean and mean what you say.

Now is the time to do that, whichever way you want to go.

As for me, I want to go to the airport. Enjoy the weekend. Call if you can.



soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Hak

    It's disheartening to see that all politicians whom we elect into office become people who aren't concerned about issues and ideas. They are more concerned about polls and how they can leverage their political standing or party. Why can't someone just make a statement that defines their character and wait to see where the chips fall. L by doing so, it would mean that politians had a bigger stake in the game and that stake woul d be their integrity. Politics today does not have that. Why do we entertain the idea that politicians care about the people when their uncertainty to stand by an issue is non existent.

    August 9, 2010 at 3:42 am |
  2. Serge Crespy


    "WE the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect union ...."

    The acceptance of gay and lesbian unions is presenting itself to be an improvement on traditional marriage.

    Although not having progressed to the wisdom level of their lives, the majority of young minds forever search for change, and remain determined in following latest trends; a desire to somehow be making a difference, without much thought to the potential for an unfavorable outcome.

    In the name of equal rights, man and woman's fundamental, biological differences are being overlooked. The gay and lesbian community is confusing the natural attraction that exists between man and woman, by promoting and presenting to youth an alternate and possibly (in their minds) an improved lifestyle.

    There should be no-doubt, the U.S. Constitution is about forming, "A More Perfect Union", not solely, "A More Equal Union". There is no reason to outright challenge, "Nature's Fundamenta Laws of Attraction".

    A gay or lesbian union is definitely not "A More Perfect Union" .... Why alternate; why build, on separating man and woman!

    Serge Crespy
    Collingwood, Ontario

    August 8, 2010 at 5:37 pm |
  3. Jim

    In the words of Benjamin Rush, Signer of the Declaration of Independence, “We profess to be republicans [in form of government], and yet we neglect the only means of establishing and perpetuating our republican forms of government, that is, the universal education of our youth in the principles of Christianity by the means of the Bible. For this Divine Book, above all others, favors that equality among mankind, that respect for just laws, and those sober and frugal virtues, which constitute the soul of republicanism.”

    August 8, 2010 at 12:48 pm |
  4. curt

    Wish you would have proofed your letter, good content. The 3rd word in the second paragraph should be "bet".

    August 8, 2010 at 12:27 pm |
  5. Merle Dunn

    Mr. Foreman, I am in no way surprised at the way our President reacts to this issue, it is the same way he acts on every issue that has come up since he has been our President. He has to take time to talk to all
    of his advisers before he can make a stance for one reason his presidency is on the line again. He has to be sure that he has a lot of
    Political support before he can come out & give his stance, just lijke
    he does on every issue that has come up during his term in office.
    Yes, I know the President's have to listen to their advisers they all do,
    but with President Obama it just takes longer I believe, because I still
    say he does not have the experience to be our President.
    I know he is a Professor, I know he is a very smart man, I know he knows a lot about so many things, I just still question his ability as
    our President.
    Yes, he has made a lot of changes happen like Health Care Reform,
    on this it took his party doing things that most Americans did not approve of, but he did & told Congress to do whatever they had to do
    to get the Health Care Reform passed, I believe this is totally the truth.
    No, I do not approve of same sex marriage, only from what the Bible
    has told me all of my life. I just thought I should share my opinion
    since I am making a comment about Our President.

    August 8, 2010 at 11:34 am |
  6. Lewis

    I think America is finally thinking twice about this issue. Deep rooted discrimination and hate is finally being brought into the light. We must rely on research, facts, and equal protections under the law.

    August 8, 2010 at 11:08 am |
  7. Jeff

    It's too late for Obama to steer clear of this topic. He promised to be a fierce advocate for the GLBT community, and his behavior has been anything but fierce. Right now, he's behaving more like a tepid politician.

    When Dick Cheney is to the left of you on an issue (and the dark lord now does support equality), you have a problem. Obama is sure to have a primary opponent in 2012, and I can bet that this opponent will be pro-marriage equality. Then it's too late for him.

    August 8, 2010 at 9:11 am |
  8. Andrew Jay Gross

    There is no issue here: all Americans deserve equal rights. Gay people deserve the right to marry, if they so choose. By denying them that right means that gay people are not recognized as people who are worthy of equal rights, which necessarily spills over into many other areas, like public opinion. When people decide that other people are not worthy of being treated as equal, then it causes me to believe that women should have their voting rights withdrawn, and women should not work for money. Blacks should not vote. Japanese an Asians should have all civil rights withdrawn. The only people who are truly worthy of equal rights are white, heterosexual men. Women need to return to their homes and raise their children and clean their houses. Period.

    How can anyone possibly disagree?

    Andrew Jay Gross

    August 8, 2010 at 7:10 am |
  9. Annie Kate

    "Say what you mean and mean what you say"..... that's a tall order for those of us who aren't President too. Its an especially tall order for a President who may need to keep his opinion to himself because he knows the issue will probably end up in the Supreme Court and he does not want to appear to have endorsed either side. That way the justices will be freed from what a standing President thinks on a subject. As polarizing as this issue is too, he may want to not make matters worse and keeps his opinion to himself. In the end, it really doesn't matter what Obama thinks about this issue anyway – this issue is one that will be decided in the courts, defining legal precedent on the subject. If I were Obama I would bide my time too.

    August 8, 2010 at 5:21 am |
  10. Mary Oliver New Orleans

    Hi Tom....Once again I agree with you, I am a women from the struggles of the 1970's, so when voteing my first was for Ms Clinton....but after listening to Mr.Obama and I do so want real change for my grandchildren I choose Mr.Obama...I continue to hope he will just stand up and tell it like he was having a private conversation with all of us....Just tell it like it really is, no ifs , ans , or but's......Many thanks again for you....

    August 8, 2010 at 2:19 am |
  11. Raymond

    At least do something right while you are in office Mr. President

    August 8, 2010 at 1:06 am |
  12. Kevin Pride

    It's not about the presidents opinion, I'm sure everyone is a little back and forth on the subject. It's the law that is the deciding factor. I personally am hereosexual and married and two men being married or two women being married does not change that.

    August 7, 2010 at 8:22 pm |
  13. Really?

    "Oh yes, I’ve seen you and your team dancing on that hotplate lately! David Axelrod was sweating and stammering like one of those guys who has been picked up on COPS when he was questioned about your stance. "

    Isn't this a little over-dramatic? I saw Axelrod spend 1/2 second of a 10 minute interviewing talking about gay marriage, and it was only to point out that Obama has been consistent in his stance. Then a news editor decided to make that 1/2 second comment a headline because they knew it would be controversial. Axelrod seemed perfectly well composed and confident in the interview.

    August 7, 2010 at 7:53 pm |
  14. Andrea Kang

    "I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented."

    Elie Wiesel

    August 7, 2010 at 7:01 pm |